Many household allergens can trigger your asthma, like dust mites and mold, but cockroaches can also be to blame. If you're among the 23% to 60% of urban asthma sufferers who react to cockroach allergens, you could experience an acute asthma attack following exposure. To keep yourself safe, you'll need to reduce the levels of cockroach allergens in your home.
Use cockroach baits
A study conducted by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences found that using cockroach baits is an effective way to reduce cockroach allergens inside your home. It's important to use baits, not sprays, because sprays can irritate your asthma. For best results, baits should be placed throughout your home, not just in your kitchen.
Researchers vacuumed floors and swabbed surfaces throughout the participants' homes, and then examined the dust and swabs that they'd collected. They found that the baits reduced allergen levels by as much as 95%.
Starve the cockroaches
If you see a single roach in your kitchen, you can assume that it has at least 800 friends hiding somewhere nearby. They're drawn to your home for the easy access to food, and once they're present, they release allergens into your home and aggravate your asthma.
Keeping the cockroach population under control will help to reduce the level of allergens, so try to starve them. Make your food harder to access by storing it in glass or plastic containers, not the original cardboard or paper packaging. Try to wash your dishes immediately, and wipe your kitchen counters right after you prepare food.
Clean up cockroach feces
If you're allergic to cockroaches, you react to the proteins within their bodies, saliva, and feces. While searching your home for cockroach feces is a gross way to spend your day, you need to get rid of the feces to keep your asthma under control. Cockroach feces resembles either coffee grounds or pepper, depending on the type of roach you have. Brown or black stains that look like ink can also be cockroach feces.
Search your home—especially the kitchen and surrounding areas—for feces. Once you find it, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to suck it up; these vacuums can help to keep the allergens from becoming airborne. Afterwards, scrub the area with soap and water. If you're very allergic, your allergist may recommend having a non-allergic family member do this for you.
If you think cockroach allergens are triggering your asthma, see your allergist to find out if you're right. For more information, contact allergen experts like Gail Cookingham M.D.